02/02/2018 - Having been reserved as provisional pre-order, pending completion of the restoration, the buyer, a gigging guitarist from North Staffs, collected this stunning guitar. Post-restoration photos have now been uploaded.
This superb guitar is one of the rare early models of Harmony's Monterey line, launched in 1937/1938, at which point it was second only to the then top-of-the-line H1327, which had Maple back & sides, and above the All Birch H950....the model which went on to be the historic longest-running production model, certainly from Harmony, continuing right through to 1972!
I can't find the ink date stamp in this guitar, no doubt faded through time, but the Harmony Guitars Database lists the much shorter production run dates on the H1320 as only 1938 to 1940, which accounts for it's scarcity!
When completed, this will be a fully original, restored and very playable treasure - a "Pre-War" USA Archtop (bearing in mind that in the USA pre-war means up to the end of 1941) model with immense period character, but which we have brought back to full playability....as they say "they don't make 'em like this any more!"
Many of the restored vintage guitars I sell are now "pre-sold" - their restoration is completed for a particular buyer who has enquired from previous sales.
Stock Number: VTG1487.
Both this and the similar period Harmony Cremona IV guitar I currently have in the workshop, are described in the contemporary 1940 Harmony Catalog as "Grand Auditorium" size archtops, and yet this guitar has the 15.5" body, and The Cremona IV has an approx. 16.25" width, so the Harmony Guitars Database is not entirely correct either way when suggesting 16.5" body. Neither could I accept the catalog's "Matchedgrain Rosewood finish back & sides"....the finish is clearly meant to reproduce the effect of Flame Maple, and I would suggest is over Solid Birch back & sides.
Clearly the top is Solid Spruce, with the splendid "Deep Wine Red Sunburst", which just looks superb, complimented by the "Neat top edge inlay of black and white blocked celluloid. White bindings on top and back, fingerboard, and guardplate". As you will see in the photos, another rarity....that Black/White Pickguard has survived....placed loosely for photos, will be re-fixed on completion of restoration.
Original Nickel keyed individual tuners remain, complete with original bootlace ferrules/bushings, original Chrome tailpiece likewise intact & I hope that the original Bone Nut is sound to re-fit. I hope also that the photos of it, prior to restoration completion, do full justice to this exceptionally nice guitar!
To me one of the nicest features of the guitar is the soft "V" profile neck, only found on these late 1930s guitars....as ever the nut width is standard Harmony 1.75"/44.5mm.
As far as I can tell, the guitar is entirely original, and apart from minor renewals detailed below, now that I have finished the schedule of restoration works, it is not only in great cosmetic condition, but even more importantly, it is in great working, playing condition!
Original Nickel keyed individual tuners remain, complete with original bootlace ferrules/bushings, fully operational and with minimal age-related discolouration. Original Chrome tailpiece likewise intact, with some typical discolouration, but sound and in keeping, has now been re-fitted. Original pickguard does have a partial fine crack in the black top ply, typically just by the mounting screw hole. and has been reinforced on the back, before re-fitting. Original Bone Nut was indeed sound.
The original floating bridge appears did have a missing chip between two of the string slots which have been cut too low into the upper/saddle section, and could only have been remedied by making a new top section, but fortuitously I managed to source an original Harmony bridge, in very nice Rosewood, which appeared to have had very little, if any use, which has been installed.
The original neck angle did not allow for adequate bridge height, and there was a suspicion that the neck joint may have lifted slightly, calling into question it's long-term stability. Accordingly the geometry needed to be corrected, and to ensure future soundness, it was necessary to carry out a full neck reset. First the fingerboard was removed to allow acess to the joint in order to remove the neck, and adjust the shaping of the joint, before re-setting.
The fingerboard extension fillet was lined on the underside with hardwood veneer to adjust to the new angle. We have regularly found that pressur-dyed Maple fingerboards of this age have become very dry & fragile. Accordingly in order to preserve the original it was again necessary to plate the underside of the main fingerboard section with dsimilar veneer, in order to give it sufficient strength to refit.
Following re-fitting, the fingerboard binding had to be replaced, and after consultation with the buyer new black binding was fitted, rathr than the original cream. The old frets were then removed, the fingerboard re-levelled to remove slight wear patches, and new frets installed. All the work was completed under the supervision of the of the luthier I work with, to his high standards, and indeed much of it was completed in his workshop, including the final touches to restore minor finish damage inevitable in the course of the work done, which he completed so as it cannot be seen, to complete the one of my favouite restorations on a stunning guitar.
Overall, the condition is considered to be as good as you will find on a near 80 year old vintage archtop acoustic - as I hope you can see in the photos, it remains a superbly handsome guitar! Cosmetically, of course, there are marks & scratches, particularly where the floating bridge posts have projected through the bridge base & scarred the top, but of course covered by the bridge in position, and some other areas of localised finished damage to the top & elsewhere - without which it would not be a genuine 1930s/40s vintage guitar. Overall it is smart for a guitar this age, with a lot of original shine and depth of colour to the superb Deep Wine Red Sunburst!
On completion of the restoration we have an an action which the buyer declared was excellent, just a tad lower than the original target of around 3mm. at the 12th fret, in fact approx. 2.75mm., of course with scope to raise this on the adjustable bridge to suit some archtop players who prefer higher action. It was strung with a set of Martin Phosphor Bronze Light 12-54 strings.
A covered chipboard case, of the right period was included.